After my last post, my friend Mike Witt wrote, “If only "remaining/abiding" came easily and naturally instead of me TRYING so hard to remain. Any thoughts?” My first thought is, “Yes, I hear you and I have no idea either!”
But as I have prayed about this today, I am beginning to remember that remaining is an ongoing, regular process. It’s something that takes time to cultivate, and fruit does not appear overnight. Being at home all day with the kids has not necessarily been the most fun. We’ve played some games, read some books, and laughed together. But it’s also been noisy and a little bit less “controlled” than my work environment. And so as I tried to read and pray while Jacob bounced on the bed beside me, I decided, “The key is to abide, so I will just abide.” And I thought I could flip the abiding switch. Didn’t work.
It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where George’s dad thinks that he can obtain peace by screaming, “Serenity now!!” whenever he got stressed out.
The fruit of the Spirit is peace, true, but fruit takes time to be borne. The Spirit is not a source to be turned on and off when I need it, freeing me to live independently from God until life gets to be a little more than I can handle. The life that Jesus describes in John 15 is an ongoing abiding, a daily and hourly relationship of intimacy, of life focused on the Father and of relying on the complete provision of the Son. That life is available at all times, but is not cultivated in a mere moment.